Scottish Open Data Unconference 2021

SODU was back for a second year – again all online. Here is what happened.

We gathered for this annual get-together of the Scottish Open Data Community over the weekend of 2nd and 3rd October 2021. In the days leading up to it we’d had quite a few people join our Miro Board and add suggestions for sessions, as well as listing what sets they’d like to see government release in Scotland.

If you are interested in the format of this unconference, please see the write up of Scottish Open Data Unconference (SODU) 2020.

In the lead up to this year’s event there was quite a bit of concern about lack of engagement from the public sector in Scotland: and with only five days to go we’d no sign-ups that we could tell from Scottish Government, Local Government, the Health Service, Universities etc.

At the weekend itself this proved to be the case. We had strong representation from civic society: data practitioners, journalists, enthusiasts, analysts, academics and so on but almost no government representation. There were two notable and very welcome exceptions from the core team at Scottish Government who deal with open data. They each attended for a morning – one Saturday and one Sunday. This was very welcome and we hope that their interaction with the wider civic group who are passionate about OD in Scotland, and their participation in sessions, will have inspired them to interact more with that wider group.

However, it was the absences which were most remarked on afterwards. If Scotland is a country whose data is “open by default” then where is the data, and where are the people making that happen in Government? We’d love to have them attend, intact with the developers, journalists, citizens, data scientists and others who could do so much with that data.


On the Saturday we had eight sessions (plus corridor chats):

  • 18 months of dealing with Covid Data
  • A practical Session on publishing data based on FOIs to local authorities
  • An Introduction to Wikidata
  • Build on Open Data Aggregation at CTC23
  • Data Commons Scotland: helping re-use organisations publish OD
  • Good News Stories from making data open in Scotland
  • Best Practices in effectively visualising open data
  • The case for open data by bioregion


On the Sunday we had another 10 session, including a repeat from Saturday of a popular talk which many missed first time around.

  • Government and Civic Society – working together
  • dCoops – datastores cloud to crypto
  • People doing data work with no-code apps
  • What other groups would benefit from open benefit – and how do we raise their awareness?
  • What do people like to see in data standard documentation websites
  • How do we demonstrate the value of open data?
  • Worker co-operatives
  • Data Commons Scotland: helping re-use organisations publish OD
  • Post SODU-2021 what do we do?
  • Improving Scotland in Wikidata GovDirectory

That final session had been prompted by a Twitter conversation on Saturday evening between Ian and other members of the Wikidata community. This attracted Jan from the Netherlands and Magnus from Sweden to join us for the session! Since the SODU weekend they’ve been working on that data.

Moving On

We’ll add links to the bullet points above to any session write-ups that we receive or publish.

Ash McLeneghan of Stirling University has contributed this blog post already.

You can download the full Miro Board grid from the weekend. It contains all of the notes taken at each session – and many useful links on the topics being discussed there.

Code The City’s next hack weekend will be #CTC24 – Open In Practice will have a strong open data element. Tickets for that event have just been released. Expect some of the outcomes of this weekend to drive the agenda then.

Keep in touch

Until then please stay in touch. You can interact with Code The City community on Slack (as well as the Scottish Open Data Community we set up also on Slack) and if you subscribe to our once-a-month-or-less email newsletter you’ll get information on all our activities in tech, data and coding.

Ian, Karen, Bruce, Pauline and Andrew